The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has received a new team as Michael Jordan teams up with Denny Hamlin with Bubba Wallace to drive their unidentified sports car. The team is a historic one as it marks the first popular pairing of a majority owner of black descent and the only black driver at the top level in NASCAR.
The announcement was made on social media by both Jordan and Hamlin with a comment from Wallace. To inform the public, the team uploaded a picture of Jordan with Hamlin wearing a firesuit in a motorhome on a race track. Along with the picture, said:
“NASCAR has had challenges with racial diversity, and there have been very few black owners in NASCAR,” Michael Jordan said. “The timing of the partnership is perfect, as NASCAR is diversifying and upholding social change more and more.”
The basketball star, Michael Jordan, becomes the first major black owner of a full-time team in NASCAR since Wendell Scott. Wendell Scott drove and owned a race car between 1961 and 1973. Wendell raced 495 times and is recorded to be the only black driver to win a race in Cup history. This feat he achieved at Jacksonville 200.
Jordan had, early this year, promised $100 million over a period of 10 years to agencies fighting systemic racism. He said the formation of the team is a step towards the advocacy for racial equality.
“This is an opportunity for me to educate a new set of audiences and provide more chances for black people in racing,” Jordan said in his statement. Jordan joins Brad Daugherty of JTG Daugherty Racing as the only black owner at the elite Cup level at NASCAR.
Three-time Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin, will race for Joe Gibbs Racing in this year’s Cup. He stated that he has been friends with Jordan since they met at a Charlotte Bobcats game 11 years ago. He also stated that Bubba Wallace was an easy and obvious choice for the driver. This is because Bubba Wallace is the only driver of African-Americans in the Cup series and has also been an advocate for racial equality. He was successful in urging NASCAR to ban the display of the confederate flag in its events.
Wallace has not recorded any victory in four seasons though he has six wins in the Truck Series. Wallace has been driving the No. 43 for Richard Petty and they have had struggles with landing sponsorship until this summer. Hamlin said Bubba Wallace has shown massive improvement since he joined the Cup Series and is believed to be ready for career advancement.
He stated further that Wallace deserves the chance to race for wins and the Jordan-Hamlin team will provide the resources for him to do just that. Hamlin also stated that he will work out all the kinks that might result from owning a race car and driving for another team with Jordan. There had been speculations early this year about Hamlin’s involvement in more than one team.
NASCAR has acknowledged the new partnership. In a new statement, NASCAR welcomed the team to the cooperation. NASCAR pointed out that Jordan is a great addition who will strengthen the excitement and competition in the sport.
Jordan is not totally new to the world of racing. He became a partial owner of the Bobcats in 2006 and acquired the team completely in 2010. He has also raced for Michael Jordan Motorsports with which he recorded a win for 10 years. He stated that he has been watching races from a young age and that the team is an exciting prospect for him. Wallace has announced that he no longer works for Petty. The team has purchased a charter that will be used in the 40-car field every week.